NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 21, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 21, 2021

The Flyers down the Bruins, the Blues defeat the Golden Knights plus the Jets brace for more COVID-19 cases, an update on the Oilers’ Mike Smith and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Third-period goals by Cam Atkinson, Travis Konecny and Sean Couturier powered the Philadelphia Flyers over the Boston Bruins 6-3. Atkinson scored twice, Couturier and Joel Farabee each had a goal and an assist and Martin Jones made 37 saves for the win. Boston made it interesting by overcoming a 3-1 deficit to tie the game in the second period on goals by Taylor Hall and Brad Marchand. Bruins forward Nick Foligno left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury.

Philadelphia Flyers winger Cam Atkinson (NHL Images).

Jordan Binnington made 42 saves and Vladimir Tarasenko tallied the go-ahead goal to give the St. Louis Blues a 3-1 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights. Brandon Saad and Ivan Barbashev also tallied for the Blues while William Karlsson scored Vegas’ only goal.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets are reportedly bracing for more positive COVID-19 tests after captain Blake Wheeler tested positive and went into self-isolation on Tuesday. The club didn’t comment on the report but is expected to provide an update on Thursday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli broke this story. He followed up on Twitter saying some tests that were initially positive have since been confirmed negative. Seravalli said it’s possible most of the roster will be cleared to play tonight against the Anaheim Ducks but the Jets are awaiting clarity on this changing situation.

TSN: Speaking of the Jets, they assigned prospect forward Cole Perfetti to the AHL’s Manitoba Moose.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers goaltender Mike Smith has been placed on injured reserve with a lower-body injury. He’ll be sidelined for at least one week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers’ playoff hopes rest on a healthy Smith unless backup Mikko Koskinen can step up in his absence, something he’s had difficulty doing in the past.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi is looking forward to facing the Canadiens in Montreal tonight. It will be his first game against his former team since signing a one-year, $6.1 million offer sheet in August. Kotkaniemi said he has no hard feelings and nothing but “real good memories” of his time with the Habs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given how poorly the Canadiens have started the season, Kotkaniemi could rub more salt in the wound by scoring during a Hurricanes victory tonight.

TSN: Speaking of the Canadiens, defenseman Joel Edmundson has taken a leave of absence to be with his father, who’s suffering from cancer. Edmundson has been sidelined thus far by an undisclosed injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Edmundson’s absence is part of the reason the Canadiens are 0-4-0 to start this season. He was a strong physical presence on their blueline last season, especially in the playoffs. Factor in the absence of starting goalie Carey Price (NHL player assistance program)and team captain Shea Weber (injuries) plus the departure of two-way center Phillip Danault (free agency) and it’s unsurprising the Canadiens look terrible thus far.

TSN: Florida Panthers forward Joe Thornton was fined $1,875.00 for slashing Tampa Bay Lightning forward Boris Katchouk on Tuesday.

Calgary Flames placed forward Glenn Gawdin on waivers yesterday.

Former NHL forward Artem Anisimov signed a one-year contract with KHL club Lokomotiv Yaroslavl.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 28, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 28, 2021

Key dates for the 2021-22 season are revealed, the league won’t allow unvaccinated players into Canada, plus the latest on Henrik Lundqvist, Cole Caufield and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPORTSNET: The key dates for the NHL’s upcoming 2021-22 season were released yesterday. The trade deadline will be 3 pm ET on Monday, March 21, 2022, and free agency begins at noon ET on Wednesday, July 13, 2022.

Dec. 1, 2021, remains the due date for restricted free agents to be signed in order to play this season. Players on one-year contracts can sign contract extensions effective Jan. 1, 2022.

Other notable dates include the last possible date of the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs (June 30), the first buyout period opening (July 1), the 2022 NHL Draft (July 7 and 8 in Montreal), and the salary arbitration period (July 27 to Aug. 11, 2022).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli (stick tap to Kukla’s Korner) tweeted out the complete list yesterday. The last day of the regular season is Apr. 30, 2021, the playoffs begin on May 2, and the deadline for qualifying offers is July 11.

THE SCORE: The NHL will not allow unvaccinated players to enter Canada to play in games this season. The league isn’t seeking a National Interest Exemption because so few NHL players remain unvaccinated. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly recently said he expected 98 percent of NHL players will be fully vaccinated by the start of the upcoming season.

The New York Rangers will retire Henrik Lundqvist’s No. 30 on Jan. 28, 2022 (NHL Images).

  NEW YORK POST: The Rangers announced they will retire Henrik Lundqvist’s No. 30 jersey on Jan. 28, 2022, in a pregame ceremony at Madison Square Garden before facing off against the Minnesota Wild. He will become the 11th player to receive that honor in Rangers history.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens rookie winger Cole Caufield will be sidelined about a week with an upper-body injury. Defenseman Joel Edmundson is expected to join his teammates in training camp on Tuesday or Wednesday after being sidelined by a minor injury. Winger Brendan Gallagher has joined his teammates after missing training camp due to family reasons.

TSN: Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon claims there was no grand scheme behind his club’s successful attempt at signing away winger Jesperi Kotkaniemi from the Canadiens earlier this month. He noted the signing wouldn’t have happened had his club managed to re-sign defenseman Dougie Hamilton, who inked a seven-year deal with the New Jersey Devils on July 28.

There was no grand plan…we didn’t set out to do this two years ago, even a month ago,” said Dundon. “There’s always lots of options to look at based on the order things happen. When this came up, this one actually worked.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was speculation the Kotkaniemi signing was made as retribution for the Canadien’s failed attempt at signing Sebastian Aho two years ago. However, Dundon does make a good point about Hamilton.

Had the Hurricanes retained the blueliner, Kotkaniemi would probably still be with the Canadiens because the Canes would’ve lacked the cap space to sign him to a one-year, $6.1 million contract. The Hurricanes’ also attempted to trade for the 21-year-old center before going the offer sheet route, and reportedly gave the Habs a heads-up that they were going to sign him. That was an odd thing to do if revenge for the Aho offer sheet was the goal here.

The Hurricanes got a little petty by tacking the $15.00 onto the end of the $6.1 million (for Kotkaniemi’s jersey number in Montreal) and including a $20 signing bonus (signifying Aho’s jersey number). Still, that’s not proof Dundon was plotting vengeance for the past two years.

THE ATHLETIC’S Tarik El-Bashir reports Washington Capitals forward Lars Eller left practice yesterday with a lower-body injury. They’ll see how he feels today. El-Bashir doesn’t know if it’s connected to last season’s groin muscle strains.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins winger Zach Aston-Reese tested positive for COVID-19 and entered the NHL’s coronavirus protocol.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Penguins GM Ron Hextall last week indicated only one player in the organization was not fully vaccinated but declined to identify him. Aston-Reese’s positive COVID test doesn’t mean he was that player.

ESPN.COM: Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Kevin Lankinen was removed from the COVID-19 protocol list. He’d been held out of the lineup since Friday but that doesn’t necessarily mean he tested positive.

NHL.COM: The department of player safety suspended Washington Capitals defenseman Dylan McIlrath for two preseason games and two regular-season games for an illegal hit to the head of Boston Bruins forward Steven Fogarty.

Ottawa Senators forward Ridly Greig was suspended for one preseason game and one regular-season game for cross-checking Winnipeg Jets center Pierre-Luc Dubois.

THE ATHLETIC’s Rick Dhaliwal reports Vancouver Canucks defenseman Brady Keeper underwent surgery on Monday for a broken leg.

THE SCORE: Former NHL defenseman Sami Vatanen signed a one-year contract with Geneve-Servette Hockey Club in Switzerland. He recorded 200 points in 473 career games with the Anaheim Ducks, New Jersey Devils and Dallas Stars.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 6, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 6, 2021

The fallout from the Carolina Hurricanes signing away Jesperi Kotkaniemi from the Montreal Canadiens, an update on Jake Gardiner, player milestones to watch this season and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell spoke to the media yesterday about his club successfully signing away Jesperi Kotkaniemi from the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.

Carolina Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell (NHL Images).

Waddell said the Hurricanes weren’t surprised that the Canadiens opted not to match the one-year, $6.1 million offer sheet. He denied revenge for the Habs’ unsuccessful attempt to sign Sebastian Aho in 2019 was the motivation behind the Kotkaniemi offer. Waddell also dismissed the club’s PR staff trolling the Canadiens over the signing as merely a marketing ploy to keep their fans engaged.

The Hurricanes GM said he initially attempted to acquire Kotkaniemi via trade and decided several days later to tender an offer sheet. Waddell indicated he hasn’t had contract extension discussions with the 21-year-old forward and his agent. The earliest they can re-sign him is in January.

Asked where Kotkaniemi would play this season, Waddell indicated the 21-year-old will probably start at left wing. Although the Hurricanes now sit above the $81.5 million salary cap by over $1.5 million, they intend to place defenseman Jake Gardiner ($4.05 million cap hit) on long-term injury reserve. Waddell indicated Gardiner will undergo hip and back surgery and won’t be ready for the start of the season.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Kotkaniemi also talked about his new contract with the Hurricanes. He considers it a great opportunity and felt confident his new club has trust in him. He noted the presence of fellow Finns Aho and Teuvo Teravainen and considers it an honor to play for a potential Stanley Cup contender.

Asked about his time with the Canadiens, Kotkaniemi acknowledged there were “ups and downs” but overall felt he had a good run in Montreal. However, he did say he thought his development with the Habs could’ve gone better.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The revenge angle keeps getting played up in the media but I think that’s just a small factor here. The Hurricanes were seeking a young forward who could play center or wing. They had an interest in Kotkaniemi, tried to trade for him and when that didn’t work not only went the offer-sheet route but gave the Habs a heads-up as to their intentions.

PuckPedia speculates the Hurricanes could maximize their long-term injury reserve space to the full $4.05 million of Gardiner’s cap hit by demoting two players to put them just under the cap ceiling before the start of the season. They’ll then put Gardiner on LTIR. No word yet on how long he’ll be sidelined but the 31-year-old blueliner could be sidelined for the season.

A contract extension for Kotkaniemi will be decided by his performance this season. It would cost them $6.1 million to qualify his rights but the two sides could agree to a long-term deal for a lower annual average value.

Kotkaniemi’s comments about his development in Montreal and his willingness to accept the Hurricanes offer had some observers suggesting the Canadiens must ensure that issue doesn’t recur with their other younger players. Whether the current management shares that view remains to be seen.

SI.COM: Jason Chen looks at several player milestones to watch in 2021-22. Joe Thornton has an opportunity to move into third place overall for games played, Ryan Getzlaf, Nicklas Backstrom and Jason Spezza could reach 1,000 points while Alex Ovechkin is 36 goals away from tying Jaromir Jagr for third place (766) on the all-time goal-scoring list.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Former Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski sold his Muirfield, Ohio home for $3.75 million.










Kotkaniemi Offer Sheet Highlights Canadiens Poor Draft Record

Kotkaniemi Offer Sheet Highlights Canadiens Poor Draft Record

The Carolina Hurricanes signing away Jesperi Kotkaniemi from the Montreal Canadiens provided a week of welcome excitement for NHL fans bored by the off-season dog days. It’s the first successful offer-sheet signing since the Edmonton Oilers landed Dustin Penner from the Anaheim Ducks in 2007.

NHL pundits and fans of both clubs will watch with interest over the next several years to determine which club made the right decision.

Former Montreal Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi (NHL Images).

This could blow up in the Hurricanes’ face or prove a shrewd move to take advantage of a cap-strapped rival. It also provides them with a measure of revenge for the Habs failed attempt to sign Sebastian Aho to an offer sheet two years ago.

The Canadiens, meanwhile, could face the humiliation of seeing a promising if inconsistent young player blossoming into a star in Carolina. Then again, they could breathe a sigh of relief if Kotkaniemi fails to develop as hoped.

L’Affaire Kotkaniemi also served as a significant reminder of what a lousy job the Canadiens have done drafting and developing talent.

I wrote about this back in January 2020, reviewing what at that point was 27 years of Canadiens fans futilely waiting for each crop of promising talent to blossom into stars that would carry their club back to Stanley Cup glory.

They came oh-so-close earlier this year. Thanks in part to homegrown stars such as Carey Price and Brendan Gallagher and youngsters such as Kotkaniemi, Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield and Alexander Romanov, the underdog Canadiens shook off a difficult regular season to reach the Stanley Cup Final.

Nevertheless, the Canadiens have a long history of busts among their first-round picks since their last Stanley Cup championship in 1993. As I wrote in 2020:

“From Terry Ryan, Matt Higgins, Eric Chouinard and Alexander Burturlin in the 1990s, through Marcel Hossa, Alexander Perezhogin, David Fischer and Louis LeBlanc in the first decade of this century, to Jarred Tinordi, Michael McCarron and Nikita Scherbak in the last decade, all were once touted as potential foundation pieces for future championship clubs in Montreal. None made much of a mark in their short careers.”

Tinordi, McCarron and Scherbak were selected by current Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin and his scouting staff. Since becoming GM in 2012, the Habs’ first-round picks also included Alex Galchenyuk (2012), Noah Juulsen (2015), Mikhail Sergachev (2016), Ryan Poehling (2017), Kotkaniemi (2018), Caufield (2019), Kaiden Guhle (2020) and this year’s unfortunate choice of Logan Mailloux.

Galchenyuk showed promise as a scorer but eventually played his way out of Montreal and has bounced among several NHL clubs. Juulsen’s career was nearly ended by an eye injury before being claimed off waivers by the Florida Panthers earlier this year. Swapped for Jonathan Drouin in 2018, Sergachev blossomed into a star with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Poehling has yet to crack the Habs roster on a full-time basis while Kotkaniemi’s struggles were well-documented during his three years in Montreal.

Caufield made the jump from college hockey last season, becoming a key ingredient in the Canadiens run to the 2021 Cup Final. Guhle is a big, promising defenseman who appeared in three games with the Habs’ AHL affiliate in Laval last season. Mailloux, meanwhile, is suspended indefinitely from the OHL this season after being fined last year by Swedish police for sharing a photo among his teammates of an 18-year-old woman engaged in a consensual sexual act with him without her permission.

Bergevin’s predecessors didn’t have a stellar record of first-round selections but they could at times strike gold in the first round (Price, Ryan McDonagh, Max Pacioretty) or subsequent rounds (Jose Theodore, Andrei Markov, P.K. Subban, Gallagher). Of his selections, only Sergachev has truly panned out but that was after he was traded to the Lightning. Caufield has the makings of a star but it’s too early to determine what he’ll truly become based on his short NHL career to date. 

It’s too early to tell how things will work out for his selections over the past three years. It takes time for promising youngsters to reach their full potential, with some taking longer than others. Still, there’s no denying the Canadiens haven’t been getting much bang for their buck from their prospect pipeline.

Some of that could be down to poor scouting. Some of it could also be because the Canadiens are doing a poor job preparing those young players for NHL duty.

Bergevin’s saving grace is his ability to win more trades than he loses. Suzuki, Shea Weber, Jeff Petry, Phillip Danault, Josh Anderson, Jake Allen, Joel Edmundson and Joel Armia were among the notable acquisitions on the roster during their deep postseason run last season.

Nevertheless, Kotkaniemi’s struggles with the Canadiens cast a harsher spotlight on how the Habs draft and develop talent. If he goes on to improve and his full potential in Carolina it will only stoke criticism of Bergevin and his staff. It could eventually lead to changes in the front office, starting with the general manager.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 5, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 5, 2021

The Canadiens don’t match the Hurricanes’ offer sheet for Jesperi Kotkaniemi and acquire Christian Dvorak from the Coyotes. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

KOTKANIEMI OFFICIALLY WITH THE HURRICANES

MONTREAL GAZETTE/THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Montreal Canadiens announced yesterday they would not match the one-year, $6.1 million offer sheet Jesperi Kotkaniemi signed with the Carolina Hurricanes. The Canadiens received the Hurricanes’ first and third-round picks in the 2022 NHL Draft as compensation.

Carolina Hurricanes forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is the first time a player has been successfully signed away from another club via offer sheet since the Edmonton Oilers inked the Anaheim Ducks’ Dustin Penner to a multi-year contract in 2007. While the Hurricanes PR department delighted in taunting the Canadiens on social media, at least there were no threats of a barn fight among general managers.

Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin was pressed for salary cap space, the Hurricanes boxed him in with that offer sheet and he couldn’t justify that investment on a promising but inconsistent young forward. Matching the offer would’ve blown his salary structure apart, leaving the Canadiens with limited cap room for the coming season and create a potential cap headache for next season to qualify Kotkaniemi’s rights.

Cap Friendly shows the Hurricanes above the $81.5 million cap by over $1.5 million but they’re expected to put defenseman Jake Gardiner on long-term injury reserve for the start of the season. Given their depth at center, Kotkaniemi will likely be a winger on their second or third line.

CANADIENS ACQUIRE DVORAK FROM COYOTES

MONTREAL GAZETTE/ARIZONA REPUBLIC: The Canadiens wasted little time finding a replacement for Kotkaniemi, acquiring center Christian Dvorak from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for two draft picks.

The Coyotes will receive the highest of the Canadiens’ two first-round picks in the 2022 draft plus a 2024 second-rounder. However, if either or both of the Canadiens’ picks are among the top-10, the Coyotes get the lower of the two picks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens were linked to the 25-year-old Dvorak throughout last week. He’s a skillful underrated two-way center carrying a $4.45 million annual average value for the next four seasons. Dvorak should prove a worthwhile fit as the Habs second-line center.

Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong has been busy this summer rebuilding his club by shipping out veteran assets for draft picks. He now has eight picks in the first two rounds of next year’s draft, including three first-rounders. Armstrong could keep those picks but it wouldn’t surprise me if he uses some of them as trade bait to acquire promising young NHL talent.

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars head coach Rick Bowness said Tyler Seguin, Alexander Radulov, Roope Hintz and Joel Hanley have recovered from the injuries that sidelined/hampered them for much of last season. Goaltender Ben Bishop is skating again but the club remains uncertain if he’ll be available for the coming season. He missed all of 2020-21 recovering from knee surgery.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW‘s Adrian Dater tweeted Avalanche goaltender Pavel Francouz has returned to full health and is anxious to resume his NHL career.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A lower-body injury sidelined Francouz for the entirety of last season.

TORONTO SUN: Columbus Blue Jackets forward Nathan Gerbe will be sidelined four-to-six months following hip surgery.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild unveiled their jerseys for the 2022 NHL Winter Classic at Target Field on New Year’s Day when they face off against the St. Louis Blues.

 










NHL Rumor Mill – September 1, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 1, 2021

Check out the latest on Tomas Hertl, Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Kirill Kaprizov in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD HERTL AND THE SHARKS PART COMPANY THIS SEASON?

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz suggests it might be wise for Tomas Hertl and the San Jose Sharks to wait a little while before engaging in contract discussions. The 27-year-old winger is entering the final season of a four-year, $22.5 million contract and is eligible for unrestricted free agent status next summer.

San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl (NHL Images).

Kurz feels the direction of the Sharks could determine Hertl’s future in San Jose. This isn’t a “go-for-it” year as the club is attempting to remain competitive while restocking the roster with youth. Shopping Hertl and his expiring contract could help to accelerate that reset if general manager Doug Wilson seeks more draft picks and prospects.

Hertl could seek a deal comparable to the eight-year, $62 million deal Sean Couturier recently signed with the Philadelphia Flyers. Despite his obvious talent, he’s also been sidelined by multiple knee injuries throughout his career. With the Sharks already carrying several hefty contracts, adding another could be risky.

Kurz indicates Multiple sources say he’s among the Sharks players unhappy over how the club handled Evander Kane’s poor conduct last season. Hertl might not want to stick around if the Sharks don’t improve their team culture but Kurz said there’s no sign he’s on the trade block.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hertl’s popped up in internet speculation linking him to the Ottawa Senators but the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch was told there was nothing to that conjecture. Nevertheless, the versatile Sharks center could start appearing more frequently in this season’s rumor mill if his club is out of the playoff chase by this season’s NHL trade deadline.

LATEST ON THE KOTKANIEMI OFFER SHEET DRAMA

TVA SPORTS: Louis Jean doubts the Montreal Canadiens will match the one-year, $6.1 million offer sheet Jesperi Kotkaniemi signed on Saturday with the Carolina Hurricanes. He believes the Canadiens already have a strategy and a really good idea of what they intend to do but will keep the Hurricanes waiting until the last minute.

Renaud Lavoie concurred with Jean while Felix Seguin considers that offer way too much for a player like Kotkaniemi. It feels it would be unreasonable for the Canadiens to match it.

Lavoie feels this is a difficult decision for the Canadiens but also wonders how nervous the Hurricanes front office feels. He said the Canes offer was a joke and believes they were 100 percent certain the Habs would match it.

Jean, meanwhile, believes Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin and his staff are still considering their options. They need to see what kind of return they could get for the compensatory draft picks (the Hurricanes’ first and third-rounders in next year’s draft) if they don’t match the offer.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien examined the Canadiens’ options. Among them is using that compensatory package to acquire a replacement for Kotkaniemi via the trade market.

O’Brien cited recent speculation floated by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and Eric Engels suggesting Arizona Coyotes center Christian Dvorak as a possible target. He also proposed hanging onto to those picks and use them to select some quality talent in what’s expected to be a deep draft next year.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt Bergevin is exploring all his options, including swapping those Hurricanes picks for a potential immediate upgrade over Kotkaniemi. I think he’s also trying to make the Canes sweat a little by waiting until the last minute to make his decision.

Bergevin could also keep those picks and sign a short-term replacement like Eric Staal or Tyler Bozak to fill in this season as a third-line center. The Habs GM could also decide to match the offer though it would blow his salary-cap structure to pieces for this season and next when Nick Suzuki, Alexander Romanov and Jake Evans are restricted free agents.

Lavoie’s comment about the Hurricanes is interesting. Most of the coverage of their side of this story played up the revenge angle for the Aho offer sheet two years ago or praising the clever scamps in their PR department for trolling the Canadiens on Twitter when this signing was announced.

Some reports speculated Kotkaniemi signed this offer sheet with the understanding he would ink a longer-term deal with the Hurricanes next summer for an annual average value lower than $6.1 million. But what if that’s not the case? What if the Canes believed the Habs would match and it doesn’t happen?

It would be an interesting twist. We’ll just have to wait until the end of this week to see how this all plays out.

UPDATE ON KAPRIZOV

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo reports the KHL season is underway in Russia with no indication Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov will sign a one-year deal with CSKA Moscow as rumored earlier this summer. He played with them for several years before joining the Wild last season. In recent days, CSKA Moscov indicated they don’t intend to bring Kaprizov back.

The Wild continue to hope that’s the case as they continue contract discussions with the Kaprizov camp. The Wild have come down from their desire to sign the 2021 Calder Trophy winner to a seven- or eight-year deal while the 24-year-old winger is willing to consider a deal longer than three years.

There’s no indication a deal between the two sides is close. Russo speculates the two sides could hammer out an agreement for five years with an annual average value of around $9 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The KHL contract threat seems to be Kaprizov’s agent attempt to use what little leverage he has to extract a shorter-term deal from the Wild. Most observers dismissed it as a bluff.